Book Your Botanicals Free Room, Board at London Plant HotelChina Sprouts First-Ever Plants on the Moon’s Surface Much like the same reason soldiers moved away from outdated forms of defense like clunky chainmail and full suits of armor, recent research suggests that plants have adopted a similar mindset over the years. It appears that researchers from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University have deduced that plants continue to evolve and move away from older, “outdated” defenses, just like humans.The study from Tatyana Livshultz, Ph.D., who’s the assistant curator of Botany at the Academy as well as an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, found that there was evidence on a genetic level of this phenomenon. Particularly, some lines of plants whose ancestors had previously produced a type of chemical to keep herbivores away have ceased to do just that, potentially because the target predator evolved as well to develop immunity. There’s no reason to continue plugging away with the same defense if your attacker isn’t affected, right?Livshultz lead a team that investigated the evolution of a specific gene that’s responsible for this very evolution. The chemicals, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, were traced all the way back to the plant family known as Apocynacaea, which includes milkweeds and similar flowers. The research turned up evidence that the gene had been determined to no longer be functioning at least four times among the plants that descended from the original family.The team believes that one of the reasons behind this evolutionary change is to make room for resources that do help to deter enemies instead of wasting time on things that would otherwise be dead in the water, like using a shield against a machine gun. But at the same time, some descendants of the plants are still utilizing the chemical. Further research is being performed by Livshultz and her team to figure out exactly why this may be, as well as the potential implications it could have on humans. Stay on target Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.